Monday, April 11, 2011

Chronosorting the Bulge

I had an interesting experience this afternoon stemming from something that we wargamers do all the time--sorting counters. I was working on an old GDW game Attack in the Ardennes, which is a point-to-point simulation of the Battle of the Bulge similar to their American Civil War game A House Divided.

In Attack of the Ardennes, each of the counters (representing a battalion), has, printed on the back, either a starting area (e.g., "H26") or an arrival date and time (e.g., "20 PM", that is, the afternoon of December 20th). What I decided to do was to store the counters for easiest setup and play entry. So, I decided to separate the counters of each side into the various setup areas and the various entry times. I then placed them into the wells in a Chessex counter tray: Axis units occupy 7 of the 16 wells and Allies unit occupy 6. But, what a difference in the distributions!

Of the 7 Axis wells, 5 are filled with units that begin the game on the map: 1 well each for staring units in areas D26 (Udenbreth), K25 (Uttfeld), L24 (Dashburg), N24 (Obersgegen, and 1 well for all the other beginning areas. All the reinforcements are stored in only 2 wells. So, the flow of the Axis view of the Battle of the Bulge is one of huge concentrations of forces in a few key ares, with only limited reinforcement later.

Now contrast this with the Allied setup. All the Allied starting units fit into a single well (with only a couple of units in any one area), while the other 5 are filled with reinforcements. Reinforcements for December the 17th and 18th fill one well, those for the 19th through the 21st fits in another, those for just the morning of the 22nd fill another, while reinforcements for the afternoon of the 23rd the the end of December the 26 fill the remaining two wells.

So, there you have the Bulge in a nutshell: the Axis starts with a concentration of forces in a few key areas, they launch an attack against scattered Allied defenders. Over the next few days, the defenders try to delay while waiting for significant reinforcements that finally arrive beginning on the morning of the 22nd which begin to equalized the forces, then the pushbacks occur.

Pretty impressive for just sorting some counters.

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